Thursday, April 1, 2021

Hot And Cold Comic Box Commentary - A Celsius Blog

I am approaching my 13th year anniversary running this site. 

Some believe 13 is unlucky. And maybe it is.

Because as the Tom King series approaches and I am faced with yet another weapon-wielding space-bound Supergirl who is either angry or sad or both, I realized I can't do it anymore. Because it is clear that the Supergirl I want to read doesn't exist anymore. Not in the minds of DC.

But I like blogging. And I like rooting for the underdog.

So why not switch things up. 

Welcome to Hot and Cold Comic Box Commentary, a Celsius blog.

Now I am going to be upfront here. Celsius is a problematic character. 

Her origin has not aged well and says a lot about how far we have come on this world. I'll review that origin here today. Let's get it behind us.

She also can be grating and one-dimensional.

But let's face it, she is a woman of color. And she led a super-hero team in the 1970s. We should be celebrating her. And that is what I intend to do here.

Again, fair warning, I am about to review her cringe worthy origin. Let's get it behind us.

My copy signed by Kupperberg & Staton

So let's start out with the good.

In 1977, DC Comics decided to restart the Showcase title, a sort of 'try-out' book to see if characters had what it took to get an ongoing title. Showcase #94 picked up where the title left off and starred 'The New Doom Patrol' by Paul Kupperberg and Joe Staton.

I was just a kid and saw the ad for this and knew I needed to get it. I didn't know the Doom Patrol at all. But that is a cool name for a team. And that is a cool logo for the team. And the cover, by Jim Aparo, an artist I already recognized at my tender age because of all the Brave and Bold issues I bought, just grabbed me. 

I bought this one off the spinner in July, 2 months after it was released, at a convenience store near the house we summered in.

And inside we got 'The Doom Patrol Lives Forever' by the aforementioned team. Nice action shot and first inside shot of our girl Celsius.

Kupperberg does a good job of giving a brief recap of the Doom Patrol's final, supposedly fatal, last mission. But Robotman survived, is given a new body courtesy of Will Magnus, and heads back to the original Patrol's headquarters only to find these three people squatting there.

Kudos again to Kupperberg. The team is a woman of Indian descent, an African-American, and a Russian defector. Nice diversity for 1977.

Of course the team fights until Robotman is subdued.

Celsius pronounces that she is the leader of the New Doom Patrol. That she has every right to call herself that and claim the building. And she has formed this team because she knows the original Patrol's enemy General Immortus is organizing, trying to get the Chief's immortality serum.

Before Celsius can say why she holds the secret, Immortus' goons invade the tower and capture the team.

On to the next issue!

My copy signed by Kupperberg & Staton

Showcase #95 again sports a solid Aparo cover. Our heroes are trapped and Celsius is under attack.

The splash page echoes the cover. 

The members of the team are all trapped in chains and cages specifically built to neutralize their powers.

And Celsius herself is under a psychic probe as Immortus looks to gain access to her memories.

Get ready for Celsius' origin. And remember, it isn't pretty when looked at from the lens of 2021.

Niles Caulder is fresh out of medical school and working at a Red Cross hospital in India. That makes him, around 25-26 years old. 

In stumbles sick and malnourished Arani ... Celsius. 

Caulder helps her regain her health.

And then this line .. 'birth of newfound emotions'.

That is a bit disturbing. Even if we don't know Arani's exact age. She is described as a child. 

It gets worse.

Caulder won't let her go back to the street to become ill again. While he has to head back to America, he'll send her to a local holy retreat where she will learn to read and write and remain healthy. This way Niles can come back and make Arani his wife.

Okay ... that sounds a lot like grooming and it IS creepy. He won't let her return to the life she knew. Instead he will put her in some isolated place so he can come back and claim her. It is terrible, I know.

But at least Arani takes advantage of the time, studying and making herself stronger, learning the mysteries of the soul. 

Somehow, either from her studies ... or from power within ... or both, Arani is able to tap into her great power. 

With some visual prodding, she is able to access her abilities - fire from her left hand, ice from her right. 

I still don't know what side I fall on. I have to assume she had some inherent meta-gene power that could only be activated with great mental control. After all, she can't be the first person to head to that shrine and study a lot.

Finally, Niles returns. And by then Arani is a woman. The two rekindle their romance. Even though they are now both adults, it does not make Caulder's actions right.

The two wed. 

And as a bridal gift, Niles gives Arani the immortality serum so she will remain 'young and beautiful'.


Icky icky icky.

I know.

But we have to put this origin behind us. Caulder is gone (at least for now). 

Celsius is a leader. She's powerful. She's a person of color. Seriously, I feel like she is underappreciated.  

Let's start seeing her adventures in a new light. 


Unknown said...

Any other day, you would have had me worried. ;)


H said...

This version of the team definitely doesn't get enough recognition. I'll admit their ongoing series was trying too hard to be like the popular team books of the day but I enjoyed their Showcase run and when they popped up in other series. I mean, they were part of the first story with Ambush Bug and that's pretty impressive to me.

Glad to see you're still doing the annual switch-up, Anj.

Anonymous said...

I remember thinking the team's super-powers weren't too original. Tempest had energy blasts coming out of his fingers...Negative Woman...was Negative Woman, the superpowered version of Kathy Griffin, Celsius felt like "Crystal the Inhuman-lite". I gave them points for a better gender/ethnic balance and that was it...On the Other hand, the original Doom Patrol's power sets ran the gamut from contrived to unoriginal, but the scripts consistently shined which illustrates my lifelong dictum "Writing is Destiny".
There was a time back in 1978 when I'd a paid good money to see Joe Staton penciling Supergirl in The Superman Family Dollar Books, these pencils are wonderful, the book is worth it for them alone.


Anj said...

Thanks to all for dealing with my little April Fool gag!

Hope everyone had a prank-filled day!